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Pavillon Populaire : Antoni Campañà : Hidden Icons, Little-Known Images of the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939


The Pavillon Populaire presents the first major exhibition in France of the work of Catalan photographer Antoni Campañà i Bandranas (Arbúcies, 1906 – Sant Cugat del Vallès, 1989) devoted to the Spanish Civil War.

Hidden and unpublished for 80 years (until the discovery, four years ago, of his famous “red box”, containing 5,000 photographs he took during the three years of the Spanish Civil War), his work shows the complexity of the conflict and the cross-tensions that would erupt in the summer of 1936, and which would eventually drag Europe into the Second World War.

Starting from the principle that war is the most absolute experience, through thousands of images, Campañà reveals its contradictions, without concession to the propaganda of any party, searching for total beauty as its premise. Where there is destruction, he seeks life; where there is the euphoria of some, he shows us the terror of others; among the ruins of Barcelona bombarded.

Using his camera as personal therapy, he was a Catholic and an artistic photographer, recording churches destroyed by the iconoclastic euphoria of anarchist militiamen, which he depicted with all the love possible. He, who was not a fascist, X-rays the victorious Italian Fascist, Moorish and German Nazi troops parading in Barcelona in 1939 with the same perspective, beauty and aesthetic approach.

Between the two, the Catalan Stalinists, everyday life or the refugees, unfolds an immense tapestry of the multiple facets of an all-out conflict that will impact French and Western public opinion and from which, ultimately, modern war photography will be born.

Knowing the sets and people he depicts, his gaze manifests a complexity that forces us to reflect and position ourselves through a much more nuanced work than that of other great names in photography, present in the same streets and battle fronts.

The exhibition at the Pavillon Populaire will present a set of nearly 200 images, many of which have never been seen before, and historical material (iconographic documents, objects, etc.) which will constitute an explanatory context necessary for the overall understanding of this dramatic period in the history of Spain.


Antoni Campañà : Icônes Cachées, les images méconnues de la Guerre d’Espagne, 1936-1939
from June 29 to September 24, 2023
Pavillon Populaire
Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle
34000 Montpellier, France

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